Seasoned sales professionals know that their role in a sales call is to lead with confidence. Getting the answers they need, delivering the information they have to share, and articulating next steps that all agree upon inspires confidence in the prospect. It shows them that they are dealing with a competent, knowledgeable salesperson and increases their level of trust in the process (and by association, the products or services offered).
So how do you run an effective meeting? While not exaustive, these five strategies will help:
1) Start and end on time
One of the most impactful ways to demonstrate authority is to start and end the meeting according to the schedule. This shows you have a plan and you stick with it -- and that your time is valuable. In an effort to please the prospect, new sales people run the risk of being too available. If your prospect is running late, wait five minutes then send a message stating, “I have another call at [time]. Since we’ll probably take the entire [time period], let’s reschedule for [later today, X time tomorrow].”
If one of the attendees is late, but everyone else is there, it's okay to say, “Let’s start the meeting. I’m recording, so [name] can catch up after.”
Of course, this requires that you’re always on time. Make sure you’re leaving yourself enough space in between calls so an overly long one doesn’t interfere with the next one.
Speaking of overly long calls: Don’t let them happen. When you’re coming close to the scheduled end, say, “We’ve got [X minutes] left on the clock. Do you have any questions I can answer before [time]?”
2) Send an agenda in advance and manage to it
Professional sales people know that sending an agenda in advance gives everyone comfort. While there may be times that you strategically choose not to send (typically this only happens in the case of an unqualified prospect), you should know it and outline it at the top of the call and make sure you hit the points during the call. If your prospect hits you with an off-topic question, you can still answer it, just don't get lost in the weeds.
If they ask a question that’ll be covered later, don’t feel obligated to answer it right then. Say, “Glad you asked. We’ll get to that in roughly [X minutes], when we talk about [topic].”
Then, answer their question at the appropriate time. Not only will the meeting stay on track, but you’ll look confident and prepared.
3) Remember that everyone's time is valuable
You’re both giving up time for the meeting but you don't need to focus on that or you'll risk sounding insincere.
Say “Thank you for your time” once, then show appreciation with phrases like, “I enjoyed talking to you -- let’s touch base on Wednesday morning,” and “Glad we could connect, let me know if you have any questions before our next call.”
4) Stay on topic
There’s a fine line between enough information and too much -- and as soon as you cross it, your prospect will tune out and you lose control. To keep their attention (and their respect), make sure you’re speaking 30-50% of the time and no more.
This percentage will be a little smaller for demos, since you’re explaining how your product can help them, but you should still be asking questions periodically so you’re not the only one talking.
When your prospect asks a question, resist the urge to give them every detail that might possibly be relevant. Instead, be succinct and straightforward. Finish with, “Does that answer your question, or can I give you additional context?” They’ll usually say they’re satisfied or follow up on a specific point.
5) Be confident
At the end of the day, all these tips and tricks pale in importance next to true confidence. If you start a call feeling sure of yourself, your prospect will quickly pick up on that -- and will naturally follow your lead. If you start the call feeling insecure or anxious, they’ll doubt your authority and might take over or tune out.
But how do you build that confidence in the first place?
Knowing the value of your product is critical. If you believe in the value prop and have witnessed its impact on your customers’ lives, you can easily explain its benefits to buyers.
However, it’s equally important to do your homework, qualify your prospects, and stick with the sales process. The proper selling techniques boost your aura of professionalism -- and you’ll feel good knowing you’ve checked the necessary boxes.